Mandak - Orientation

Identification. Mandak is a linguistic-cultural designation for people living in central New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. "Mandak" means "boy" or "male" and is used by New Irelanders to refer to those speaking the various dialects of Mandak. Further sociocultural distinctions are made by reference to particular Mandak villages.

Location. The Mandak live in central New Ireland on the east and west coasts and in the interior on Lelet Plateau, Between 3°6′ and 3°20′ S and 151°47′ and 152°8′ E. This tropical area has a wet season dominated by the northwest monsoon winds from December to May and a dry season with prevailing southeast trade winds from May to October, Divided by transitional calmer, more humid weather. Rainfall varies considerably according to local topographic conditions, with periodic drought a potential problem in some coastal areas. Mean monthly temperatures range from the high 20s to about 32° C.

Demography. The Mandak numbered about 3,324 in the 1960s, of which some 500 resided in the interior Lelet region. From about 1920 to 1950, New Ireland experienced depopulation due to Western contact. By the late 1950s, the population had stabilized and began to increase in some areas. Because of the loss of all census data for New Ireland during World War II, government records are available only from 1949 to present. A census of east coast villages made by E. W. P. Chinnery in 1929 shows larger village populations than the 1949 government census.

Linguistic Affiliation. Mandak, with five dialects, is an Austronesian language, classified with Lavatbura-Lamusong in the Madak Family. Linguistic variation is also found at the subdialect level from village to village.

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